Courses of Study 2022-2023 
    Jun 24, 2024  
Courses of Study 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environment & Sustainability

Environment & Sustainability Major

The Environment & Sustainability (E&S) major is available in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences. The requirements for the major are the same in both colleges. E&S provides students with a basis for understanding the structure and functioning of the earth’s environment. How do we as humans value, use, benefit from, and protect the environment? How can we do so sustainably? Students take courses in environmental natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, examining how these disciplines can be applied to develop policies and cultural practices that maintain biodiversity, sustain food production, and develop renewable energy resources.

The E&S curriculum advances the ability of students to understand and address contemporary environmental issues. This goal requires an interdisciplinary and integrated undergraduate experience that provides both breadth and depth in understanding the causes and consequences of changing environments throughout the world. The curriculum relies upon a core foundation in biology, physical and social science, humanities, economics, and statistics, supplemented by coursework and experiences integrating these topics of study. In addition, the E&S curriculum provides flexibility to pursue greater depth in specific disciplines encompassing environment and sustainability issues, while taking advantage of Cornell’s diverse range of courses and opportunities.

All students complete a set of foundation courses (core curriculum) after which students tailor their upper-division courses by selecting one of six concentrations: Environmental Biology and Applied Ecology (EBAE), Environmental Humanities (EH), Environmental Policy and Governance (EPG), Land, Air and Water Resources (LAWR), Sustainable Business and Environmental Economics (SBEE), or a Student-Designed Concentration (SD).

Flexibility remains for students to study abroad, engage in research (including the E&S honors program) and pursue other opportunities offered by Cornell. Prospective students are encouraged to explore the learning outcomes, curriculum requirements, and career paths pursued by recent graduates.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast multiple perspectives on the sustainability of human-environment relationships, including implications for food, land, air, water, energy, climate, and biodiversity.
  2. Evaluate claims about sustainability using approaches and perspectives from the biophysical sciences, humanities and social sciences.
  3. Apply diverse scholarly approaches to critically evaluate information and build knowledge about how the environment influences human resource use.
  4. Work collaboratively and across disciplines to formulate approaches to environmental challenges that could help build sustainable human-ecological systems.
  5. Communicate and collaborate across disciplines, and demonstrate the capacity to enter the public dialogue regarding complex environmental issues using a variety of communication strategies.

Environment & Sustainability Curriculum Requirements


  • No prerequisite courses are necessary before declaring the E&S major.
  • Letter or S/U grade options will meet major requirements.
  • A grade of D- or better must be earned to meet major requirements.
  • Core requirements minimum is 29 credits.
  • Concentration requirements minimum is 21 credits.

In addition to the major requirements outlined below, all students must meet their college graduation requirements:


Choose one course:


Choose one course:


Choose one course:


7-10 additional courses.

Students declare their concentration by the end of their sophomore year

Concentrations (Acronyms)

Environmental Biology and Applied Ecology (EBAE)

Environmental Humanities (EH)

Environmental Policy and Governance (EPG)

Land, Air and Water Resources (LAWR)

Student-Designed Concentration (SD)

Sustainable Business and Environmental Economics (SBEE)

Environmental Biology & Applied Ecology Concentration

Required courses:

Biological Science (choose one)

Chemistry (choose two)

Calculus (choose one)

Quantitative (one course- advisor approval required)

  • choose from any quantitative field that aligns with your career goals. Some fields/courses from which to choose are an additional calculus or statistics beyond the core and concentration requirements, population modeling (BIOEE or NTRES) and/or applied analytical courses, computer programming, or Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

Genetics (choose one)

Ecology (choose one)​

Elective Courses:

Choose one course from List 1, one course from List 2 and one more course from either list that must be at the 4000 level or above.

List 1-

List 2-

Environmental Humanities Concentration

  • Minimum of 26 credits (7-8 courses) selected from the following categories.
  • 18 of these 26 credits must be courses at the 3000 level or higher.
  • Additional courses may be considered including the Society for the Humanities and other one-time course offerings.
  • (*) marks courses common to both the humanities core requirement and the concentration. The same course may not fill both requirements.


Africana Studies

Asian Studies

Biology & Society


Comparative Literature



History of art and visual studies

Natural Resources

Religious Studies

Science & technology studies


Policy and Governance Concentration

Seven courses beyond the E&S core requirements consisting of the following:

Foundational courses

The four foundational courses provide a grounding in four key domains of environmental action and management. Resource Management and Environmental Law introduces the legal tools that apply to environmental issues. Environmental Policy Processes shows how people construct and implement policies concerning natural resources. Environmental Sociology gives students tools to make sense of the varying ways groups of people create, understand, struggle over, and resolve environmental concerns. Environmental Governance acquaints students with key institutions through which people use resources and equips students to analyze variation and change in environmental management.

Methods/tools course

Choose one of the following methods/tools courses to acquire tools that will enhance your ability to do research and analysis on the social dimensions of environments. Students may not use the same course to fulfill both a core and concentration requirement. (*) denotes courses that may be used to fulfill core requirements.

Additional Environmental Courses

Choose two from the following list of additional environmental courses. Students may not use the same course to fulfill both a core and concentration requirement. For example, if you took HIST 2581 to fulfill the Humanities core requirement, you could not also count it toward this requirement, but you could additionally take NTRES 3320 for this requirement. Courses not in this list that are relevant to social and policy dimensions of environmental issues can be considered for this requirement with approval of your advisor and the E&S Program. (*) denotes courses that may be used to fulfill core requirements.

Land, Air & Water Resources Concentration

Note: Some of the courses in this concentration require more than the minimum math and physics requirements for the E&S major. Upon selecting the LAWR concentration, students should identify the set of concentration courses that best satisfies their goals, to assure they can meet any additional calculus and physics prerequisites.

Required Courses:

Biological Science (choose one)

Quantitative (choose one)

Biogeochemistry (choose one)

LAWR Elective Courses:

Choose five additional courses from the LAWR elective lists:

  • One course from LAWR List 1: Chemical/Physical environmental science
  • One course from LAWR List 2: Environmental informatics
  • One course from LAWR List 3: Integrated ecosystems/ecology
  • One additional elective from LAWR List 1, 2, or 3
  • One additional elective from LAWR List 1, 2, or 3

Other Cornell University courses similar in content and level (3000-level or above), but not on these lists, may be chosen in consultation with your advisor.

LAWR List 1 – Chemical/Physical environmental science

LAWR List 2 – Environmental informatics

LAWR List 3 – Integrated ecosystems/ecology

Student-Designed Concentration

Course Requirements

  • Eight courses beyond the E&S core requirements.
  • No specific courses are required but at least six of the eight courses in the concentration must be 3000-level courses.
  • All courses must be at least three credits.
  • A course may only be used once to meet either a core or concentration requirement.
  • Courses should reflect an environment or sustainability theme.
  • Independent study courses, internship credits, and research credits are not eligible for the SD concentration.

Students interested in designing their own concentration must submit an application by the end of their sophomore year. See the E&S Student-Designed Concentration page for more details.

Sustainable Business & Environmental Economics Concentration

Required Courses:

Elective Courses:

Resource/Environmental economics (choose a minimum of 5.5 credits, 2-3 courses)

Data analysis/econometrics (choose one)

Environment & Sustainability Minor

Students enrolled in any major may pursue a minor in Environment & Sustainability (E&S). Students will customize a course of study (minimum 16 credits) that will allow them to develop a basic knowledge of the environmental sciences and humanities. The minor allows students with a wide diversity of interests to gain confidence in their understanding of sustainability, as well as the complex interactions and interdependencies that characterize ecosystems and relationships between society and environment. Building literacy and comprehension across key disciplines is a fundamental step toward effective engagement with sustainability and can provide students with highly desirable skills for the job market. To learn more, visit the E&S minor webpage.

General Requirements:

  • Five courses plus one colloquium (details below).
  • Any undergraduate student at Cornell may enroll in the minor (except E&S majors).
  • All courses except ENVS 2000  must be taken for a letter grade, and a grade of “C” or better must be recorded.
  • At least two courses must be at the 3000-level or higher.
  • AP credit will not be accepted.
  • Overlap of no more than two courses between the E&S minor and a student’s other major(s) and/or minors will be accepted.
  • No course substitutions are allowed with two exceptions: 1) external transfer students using one course from a prior institution, and 2) a course for the minor has a forbidden overlap with a course taken for a student’s major.

Course Requirements:

Environmental Biology (choose 1):

  1. BIOEE 1610  / BIOSM 1610  - Ecology & the Environment (F, S, Su)
  2. Any course from EBAE Elective Lists

Environmental Physical Sciences (choose 1):

  1. EAS 1600 - Environmental Physics  (F-online, S-lecture)
  2. Any course from LAWR Elective Lists

Environment & Sustainability Colloquium (choose 1):

  1. ENVS 2000  / ENVS 2010  - Environment and Sustainability Colloquium (F)
  2. BEE 2000  / BEE 2010  - Perspectives on the Climate Change Challenge (S)